GAME #6: Plymouth State College (2-3, 1-2 FFC) at Springfield College (5-0, 3-0 FFC)
Sat., Oct. 14, 2000, 1:30 p.m., Benedum Field, Springfield, Mass.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State College will face the top-ranked team in New England for the second time in three weeks this Saturday when the Panthers travel to Springfield College for a Freedom Football Conference encounter.
The Panthers and Pride will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Benedum Field in Springfield, Mass. PSC is trying to overcome a two-game losing streak and the loss of five offensive starters due to injury, while Springfield is undefeated after five games, including last week's dramatic victory over defending champion and pre-season favorite Western Connecticut.
PSC and Springfield have been meeting on the gridiron only since 1995, with the Pride holding a 3-2 series lead. The Panthers captured one-sided victories in 1995 (31-6) and 1997 (36-6), and the Pride earned lop-sided wins in 1998 (40-7) and 1999 (51-33). The only close game was in 1996, when Springfield held on for a 28-23 decision.
Led by second-year head coach Chris Rorke, PSC is playing its third straight FFC road game. The Panthers are hoping to salvage the road swing, having dropped the previous two to undefeated Western Connecticut (56-7) and Kings Point (25-19) to dip to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the FFC. PSC had its chances against Kings Point, but with only one healthy starter on the offensive line, center Chris Belmont (Campton, NH), and 1,000-yard halfback Russ Massahos (Windham, NH) in street clothes nursing injuries, the Panthers were unable to pull out the road victory.
Springfield, led by 17th- year head coach Mike DeLong, has the nation's leading rushing offense, averaging 461 yards a game. The Pride, 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the FFC, received all 10 first-place votes to earn the top spot in this week's ECAC New England poll. Last Friday Springfield held on for an emotional 43-36 victory over Western Connecticut, bumping the Pride to 16th in the national Division III poll.
WEEKLY FFC HONORS: PSC had two individuals honored by the FFC for their performances at Kings Point. Junior LB Chris Kelliher (11 tackles, 6 unassisted, 2 TFL) and sophomore RB Jason Bordas (17 carries, 89 yards, 1 TD; team-high 4 catches, 64 yards, 1 TD) were both named to the Weekly Honor Roll. Bordas made the most of his first career start in place of the injured Massahos.
2000 PSC WEEKLY HONORS:
Sept. 10 DB Mike Pelletier (FFC Def. Player/Week), WR Nate Sergent (FFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 24 DB Mike Pelletier (FFC Def. Player/Week, ECAC NE Honor Roll),
RB Russ Massahos (FFC Honor Roll)
Oct. 2 LB Chris Kelliher (FFC Honor Roll), RB Jason Bordas (FFC Honor Roll)
DUALING QBs: With the Panther offensive line battered with injuries, PSC head coach Chris Rorke went with a platoon system at quarterback against Kings Point. Sophomore Matt Simpson started, and was replaced every second offensive series by junior Zach Matthews. Both Simpson and Matthews had experience as a starter entering the season, Simpson starting nine game last season and Matthews getting the nod in nine outings in 1998.
FFC PRE-SEASON POLL: Western Conn., the defending conference champion, was picked to repeat its title in the annual FFC pre-season coaches poll, receiving four of seven first-place votes. Springfield got the other three top votes and was picked second, followed by PSC in third, Kings Point in fourth, WPI and Norwich tied for fifth, and Coast Guard in seventh.
A LOOK AHEAD: After three straight FFC road games, PSC finally returns home to Currier Field next Saturday (Oct. 21) to host Bentley College in the annual Homecoming contest. The non-conference clash at 12 noon will be televised live on WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H.